Images by Sara Porter
Images by Jake Morley
‘Plane’s clarinet has an eloquent and expressive voice. He can be clownish, rude, barracking and sneering; he can weep, simper and smarm; he can joke, cackle and cheer. He can also produce whispered tone from nothing, bite the air with a chisel edge, roar low down like a didgeridoo or soar with the pure white sound of a cathedral treble.’
‘The delectable soloist, Robert Plane, must be smiling for joy…’
International Record Review
‘..but the performance of the Finzi Clarinet Concerto which, for me, gets right to the heart is the excellent Robert Plane’s….sinuous and flexible.’
Recommended Recording, Building a Library, BBC Radio 3
“The Clarinet Sonata, Howells’s last major chamber work was completed in 1946. The dedicatee was Frederick Thurston, and the wonderfully idiomatic 1980 recording by his wife and pupil Thea King has certainly stood the test of time. Robert Plane’s poetic account is possibly finer still, with its entrancing poise and liquid tone. Plane shines too in the coquettish miniature A Near-Minuet and sublime Rhapsodic Quintet.”
“The clarinet plays a brilliant top line in Weber’s Clarinet Quintet op.34. He is a weightless funambulist dancing along the stave, leaping up the ledger lines and attacking with a breathless whisper. His two octave leaps are the joy of his instrument, and his finger work in the loud-soft hemi-demi-semi quaver-plus ascents is witness to the hours of effort in a practice room which those who sell records by hype cut short.”
London Evening Standard
“A highly accomplished, indeed commanding performance of Finzi’s gorgeous Clarinet Concerto from Robert Plane. With his bright, singing tone and effortless technical mastery, Plane leaves a stylish impression …”
“..clarinettist Robert Plane, a formidable young player who combines the charisma and virtuosity of a solo player with the ensemble skills of the orchestral musician.”
BBC Music Magazine (Diana Burrell Concerto London Premiere, Barbican)
“The concerto was specially written for Robert Plane, whose outstanding musicianship fully justified the composer’s confidence; made clear in both her pre-concert talk, and in her probing of the technical and expressive limits of this finely crafted score…Chamber orchestras ought to be queuing up for a chance at this concerto with Plane.”
The Musical Times (Diana Burrell Concerto)
“..a young man with technique to spare and musicality to match…the slow movement contained one of those rare moments – the audience awed into silence, a velvety halo round the clarinet – in which time stood still.”
The Yorkshire Evening Press
Robert Plane won the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in London in 1992 and has since enjoyed a career encompassing solo and chamber work, as well as holding the principal clarinet positions of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
He is a successful recording artist and is particularly highly regarded for his solo recordings for Naxos. His account of Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto won Classic CD Magazine’s ‘Best Concerto Recording’ Award and was selected as BBC Radio 3’s recommended version in ‘Building a Library’, whilst his recording of Bax Sonatas was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award. His recording of Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ with the Gould Trio was praised by BBC Music Magazine as the ‘best modern account’ of this monumental work.
Robert has played concertos with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Dortmund Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra and the Scottish Ensemble in concert halls across Europe, from Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional and the Zurich Tonhalle to London’s Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall. He toured China as soloist with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, including a performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, broadcast live to a TV audience of 6 million. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2011 in Simon Holt’s double concerto ‘Centauromachy’ and in 2013 made his US concerto debut with the Virginia Symphony. He has given premiere performances of concertos by Piers Hellawell, Diana Burrell and Nicola LeFanu.
Robert’s chamber music collaborations have included quintets with a number of well-known string quartets (Maggini, Auer, Brodsky, Mandelring, Vellinger, Tippett, Carducci, Finzi, Cavaleri and Dante) as well as with the chamber ensemble of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Ibis Ensemble in Trinidad. He has collaborated with the pianist Sophia Rahman for over 20 years and highlights of their concerts together include tours to South America, New Zealand and China. Together with the Gould Piano Trio he directs the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival in Northumberland.
Robert teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and has given masterclasses around the world, including at both the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music in London, the Central Conservatory in Beijing and at the San Francisco Conservatory.